• Artist: John Notten
  • Medium: Interactive Installation
  • Project Type: Independent Projects
  • Neighbourhood: Fort York

This immersive experience repurposes common objects to explore the fort as an archetype of power and privilege.


Fort York Visitor Centre, outdoors

  • Address: 250 Fort York Blvd.
  • Public Washrooms: No
  • Physical Access: Wheelchair accessible

The Project

Tall wooden walls of crude, sharpened posts will make a four-sided structure reminiscent of early European settler forts. Installed in the shadow of Fort York, “Stronghold” will offer a symbol of authority, protection and power. At the same time, this installation will draw to mind relationships of exclusion and domination that underpin Canada’s nation-building project. Those relationships are based on colonial logics of “us versus them.” Viewers will be invited into the structure and will find an unexpected setting that contrasts with its steadfast exterior. Inside, and through an ironic use of materials, audiences will consider historical legacies of settler colonialism. Visitors will also consider ongoing Indigenous displacement caused by privileged practices of rural leisure.

Extended Project Details: "Stonghold" will be on view until Monday, October 14 Monday - Friday:10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.. Saturday – Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m

The Artist

John Notten is a Toronto-based contemporary artist and educator. He started contributing to Nuit Blanche in 2010; “Stronghold” is his sixth such project to date. His art focuses on the transformation of a wide range of materials and common objects into new, surprising configurations. His immersive, interactive installations address displacement, consumerism and inequity.


  • This project was supported through Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding.

John Notten wishes to thank the Toronto Catholic District School Board. In particular, he thanks St. Basil the Great Secondary School. “Stronghold” could not have been built without the generous permission to use that school’s space.